Just as there are two sides to a coin, there are always boons and banes to any object, activity or even relationship. Likewise, it is one thing to be passionate about an activity, and quite another to be addicted to it – and this often may not be associated with a positive outcome.
Addictions broadly have many forms. When we think about addiction, what comes to mind first? Perhaps smoking, drinking, drugs – basically a narcotic that is injurious to health. In traditional society, when one’s child isn’t a smoker, a drinker or a drug user, it usually means something substantial has been achieved. No doubt, this is a positive outcome for sure, but there is one element that your child is probably already addicted to.
And perhaps not just your child, but even adults alike are as much caught in the grips of this addiction. Mobile phones have been perhaps one of the greatest inventions there has been and thanks to Steve Jobs, we have the smartphone of today on which you are probably viewing this article.
The smartphone has glaring banes
The smartphone has allowed many conveniences but there are glaring downsides too. And if you are taking your child’s cell phone addiction lightly, you may want to reconsider.
The act of using a phone means your body posture is crouched forward and your child’s upper torso is in a ‘bowed down’ position for long stretches. From my personal observation, many even talk in this same posture and even while eating, they seem as though they are on their phones. Savage, I tell you!
Much as drugs, tobacco and alcohol are classified as addictions, we do not really recognise phone addiction as a serious threat. In this regard though, I must share with you an anecdote on South Korea.
Young adults in South Korea were spending endless hours on their phones playing mobile games. Their studies were threatened and their social skills were definitely headed the wrong way. But, relief for parents came in the form of government intervention. Gaming networks would shut for several hours each night and rehabilitation centres were set up. That’s right! Rehabs for cell phone addiction. And these phone addiction rehabs actually worked. While I am not quite suggesting we need such centres, South Korea’s example is a good one to keep in mind.
But the smartphone eased pandemic related woes
For the most part, I have mostly highlighted the addictive side of smartphone usage. But I must also share with you what the benefits have been. Again, from my observation, we probably spend a lot of time on our phones because there is so much that keeps us engaged. There are apps, games, and in particular, social media sites that are ever popular.
As lockdowns began in March 2020, the phone actually became the all-important tool for most households. The smartphone became a tool for teaching and learning. Most children, irrespective of age, needed a mobile phone for their studies because lockdowns started. But with increased mobile use, the dangers of addiction have also become higher.
The easy availability of any information is perhaps the biggest concern. No doubt it is a huge benefit but, young adults in their formative years, may easily stumble on the wrong kind of information. We possibly do not think much of it but the internet really does provide an information overload.
The chances of misuse are high and parental controls must be maintained. Issues such as cyber bullying are not uncommon and only three years ago, there was the deadly “Blue Whale” game.
Sexually explicit content is also easy to access and besides, there are influencers who are often projecting unattainable goals that many attempt to fulfil.
The mobile phone, in many ways, is actually like a drug. It is becoming an escape, a way to be removed from reality. Social media platforms offer a means to comment and criticise, approve and admire.
It is time , indeed, for caution. Taking steps to prevent mobile addiction must be considered, and it holds even more importance in the current scenario. With physical schools still some time away from opening, the smartphone will continue to be a medium of learning. But as with anything, the downsides must be checked – and they must be checked with urgency.